Fair and Unbalanced

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Mike Littwin

"The pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handles."

Short take: Littwin on the Alden vultures (again) and the gutless firing of a friend

Short take: Littwin on the Alden vultures (again) and the gutless firing of a friend

So the hedge-fund vultures at Alden Global Capital got my friend, Dave Krieger, who was the esteemed editorial page editor at the Boulder Daily Camera until they fired him.

In other words, he’s still esteemed — maybe even more so now — but no longer the editor and no longer employed.

There is no mystery here. Krieger wrote an editorial about the Alden vultures that the vultures wouldn’t publish because it told the truth about them — and how they’re destroying journalism in Colorado and elsewhere in America. It’s not a new truth. I’ve written it myself many times. (In fact, Krieger tried to publish one such column of mine in the Camera, but it was, uh, killed.) Denver Post editorial page editor Chuck Plunkett wrote it when the vultures cut the Post newsroom by a third, to fewer than 70 employees. Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan described the hedge fund’s approach to journalism as  “strip-mining” and worse.

They killed the column, and Krieger, because he’s Krieger and because he sees editorial interference from owners as censorship, published it in a blog so people would know what had gone down — and that the Camera owners couldn’t handle the truth.

It was a brave thing to do. It was a principled thing to do. It was the only thing that Krieger being Krieger, headstrong and tough-minded and entirely in the right, could do.

And, of course, it got him fired. He knew it was coming. Everyone knew it was coming. It was the Camera publisher who did it. He told Krieger he was being “terminated,” which, Krieger notes, could suggest a fate worse than losing a job. You can read all about it here in a follow-up blog explaining exactly what had happened to him and why. He wrote it with typical Krieger wit and with a not-so-typical Krieger show of heartbreak.

I won’t try to rewrite his story. He’s written it well enough. But I will give you the money shot (or one of several) in his take on publisher Al Manzi and executive editor Kevin Kaufman and what he calls “the classic collaborator’s defense”:

“Anyway, over time, Al and Kevin have gotten used to this process. It’s human nature. You adapt. They’ve laid off people who broke down and sobbed, who became enraged, who asked them what they should do now. They’ve moved the business from the Camera’s longtime downtown headquarters to an office building in east Boulder, to today’s offices in a nondescript office park farther east. The way they see it, they have no choice. If they don’t do it, DFM will find somebody who will. The only difference will be that the two of them won’t have jobs. This is true as far as it goes, but it’s also the classic collaborator’s defense. We are allegedly serving the community with our newspaper. At what point do the community’s interests enter the equation? Ever?”

Like me, Krieger is basically a lifer. The hedge-fund vultures couldn’t care less that they’re taking, temporarily at least, that part of his life away or that Camera readers will be much poorer for it. Krieger had a few colorful jobs in his youth, but mostly it’s been newspapers and radio (where, you’ll remember, he was a star on KOA) and magazines and wherever journalism could be done. We worked together for years at the late, great Rocky and for a few years at the Denver Post, and all I know now is that wherever he lands next, he’ll have a righteous story to tell.

Photo by Henrique Pinto via Flickr: Creative Commons

 

 

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About the Author

Mike Littwin

He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow.
mlittwin@coloradoindependent.com | Twitter @mike_littwin

3 Comments

  1. john in denver on said:

    I hope the “terminated” Mr. Kreiger will find a new job that allows him to tell his truths, and you will let us know when he does.

    I’m rethinking my subscription to the Denver Post. The balance between wanting to support the journalists and wanting not to support Alden is a close call in my mind. Anyone have insight to tip the balance one way or the other?

  2. Ginny on said:

    Whether or not I agreed with his stands, he brought great vitality and quality writing to the editorial pages. The Camera will lose its soul without him.

  3. Harry on said:

    John in Denver — At least for now, the Denver Post still provides me with invaluable local news and insights, so I will continue to subscribe.

    However, note this week the Perspective section has shrunk to little more than a page, and without even any letters to the editor — Alden’s gut punch to Chuck Plunkett’s rebellion. Since Alden will continue to suck the life out of all their papers, I can only hope an ownership consortium can come up with sufficient capital to ransom the Post from the vultures ASAP.

    I would recommend (at least for now — I’m sure Alden will want more soon) the $5.99 electronic replica edition. Works fine on my $299 iPad, emulating the experience and convenience of a paper edition quite well. That is the only balanced position I can think of currently.

    Unfortunately, I don’t see anything that local, state and certainly not federal agencies can or will do to help.

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